Unlock the secrets of Iran on an epic two-wheeled adventure

Embark on a cycling adventure across the hidden world of Iran. Brimming with mystery and intrigue, this is a country of refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, fascinating nomads and shimmering deserts. Visit the lively bazaars of Tehran, the immaculate gardens in Kashan, the deep red mudbrick town of Abyaneh, the incredible bridges and mosques of Esfahan, the great ruins of Izad Khast and Pasargad, the cliff-cut necropolis Naqsh-e Rustam, the jaw-dropping ancient city of Persepolis and the must-see old towns of Shiraz and Yazd.


Start
Tehran, Iran
Finish
Tehran, Iran
Destination
Iran
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
HPXI
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Discover an Iran beyond the media portrayals of a repressive and dour regime – this is a country full of warm, lively and friendly people

  • Explore the rich history told in the ancient ruins that lie across the country. Modern Iran is a great fusion of civilisations – the Archaemedians, Alexander the Great, the Parthanians, Sassanians, Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols, and Safavids – who all left their mark in innumerable ways

  • Cycle to Izad Khast for a walking tour of the castle ruins, then cap the day off with a delicious fresh kebab

  • Experience the wondrous remains of the ancient capital of Persepolis – the scale and grandeur will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world

Is this trip right for you?

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker.

  • Iran is one of the safest and friendliest places you can travel but it is very conservative. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a strict dress code (particularly for women) in what may be quite warm weather. Things don't get much more different to home than this!

  • On arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered. Men must also be conservatively dressed.

  • Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do occur.

  • The pathways around some of the sites may be uneven, rocky or dusty. Some of the guided trips may involve quite a lot of walking in the elements. Please bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared with hats, sunscreen, water or layers for cooler weather.

  • Iran is a big country and this trip covers a lot in two weeks, so be prepared for some long travel days in the vehicle as well as cycling.

  • When we stay in local homes we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed. While bedding is provided, you might like to bring a thin, light inflatable camping-style mattress to increase your comfort.

  • Most group meals are on a 'shared' basis where the group orders a number of dishes and everyone shares (as opposed to ordering your own dish).

Itinerary

Salaam! Welcome to Iran. Frequently misunderstood, Iran is a country of amazing diversity in both scenery and people, something you will discover cycling through this fascinating country over the next 16 days.

Your adventure begins in the bustling capital city Tehran. You will be met on arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Take some time to relax before the Welcome Meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception staff where it will take place. We'll be checking your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have this with you.

After the meeting, venture out into the chaotic streets of Tehran with your leader. Expect to see women wearing full-length chador competing for space with young and hip girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. Also expect to be stopped by friendly locals who love nothing more than to chat with you about anything and everything. Get to know your fellow cyclists over an included dinner at a traditional teahouse, where you will have the chance to feast on a delicious local meal of Dizi (a traditional broth based stew).

Cycling distance: None
Optional Activities
  • Tehran - Golestan Palace Entrance - IRR150000
  • Tehran - Iran National Museum- Entry Fee Only - IRR500000
  • Tehran - Garden Museum of Anti-Arrogance (ex-US Embassy) - IRR200000
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
ARRIVAL TRANSFER:
In order for us to arrange your complimentary arrival transfer, please provide your flight details at least 14 days prior to the start of your tour. Please note that we use a local supplier for this transfer and, as tourism is a developing industry in Iran, it is possible your driver will not speak English.

UK, USA & CANADIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS
Please note that there are a number of travel restrictions for British, American and Canadian passport holders. If this applies to you, please ensure you carefully read the ‘Passport and Visa’ section of the Essential Trip Information. Passengers of these nationalities must be accompanied by a licensed guide at all times, so please note that you will not be permitted to arrive earlier than the day the tour is scheduled to start.
Fill up on a traditional Iranian breakfast of boiled eggs, bread and vegetables before taking the subway to the Tajrish area of Tehran. After a short orientation walk guided by your leader there will be some free time to explore the bazaar, visit the Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque, or relax with a glass of doogh (a minty yogurt drink).

Depart for the traditional city of Qom after lunch. The only way from Tehran to Qom is by freeway, so we’ll travel this section by vehicle (approx. 2 hrs) and arrive late in the afternoon. After checking into our hotel, you’ll be fitted to your bike to make sure you're ready for tomorrow's ride. Later, head out for an included dinner and orientation walk of this fascinating city.

Qom is the second most religious and conservative city in the country. Hazrat-e Masumeh Shrine (the holy shrine of Fatima Masouma) is a must-see and, if you wish to enter, your leader can arrange a local guide to escort you. Your leader will also discuss appropriate dress while in Qom. Women will need to wear a chador, however it is possible to collect one at the gates.

Cycling distance: None
Included Activities
  • Tehran - Tajrish orientation walk
  • Qom - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Qom - Hazrat-e Masumeh Shrine - Free
  • Tehran - Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Get ready for your first day on the bike! Straight after breakfast, jump in the support vehicle and transfer out of Qom. Today’s ride will take you away from the highway and into the barren mountainous countryside of the Markazi Province. Along the way you will pass through a number of tiny villages, giving you a glimpse into local life.

While the overall ride is only 32km, it will be a challenging day in the saddle thanks to the rocky terrain. From Kermjgan, pedal uphill on a gravel road for 12kms as we cycle up to 2850 metres above sea level. Be rewarded with incredible views of this remote region on the 20km downhill stretch to the small town of Bijegan. From here we re-join the highway and drive on to Kashan, where the aim is to arrive before 5pm.

Kashan is a beautiful oasis city with a very long history – human settlement in the area dates back to the 4th millennium BC. It’s also a merchant town known for its high quality ceramics, silks, carpets, and some of the finest traditional houses in Iran. Enjoy a free evening in this city.

Cycling distance: Approx. 32km/20miles, with around 70% done on gravel roads. First 12km uphill (approx. 785m/2575ft elevation gain) followed by 20kms downhill (-885m/-2900ft).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning, take the support vehicle to the oasis that is Fin Gardens. It's perfectly symmetrical design, elaborate water features and intricate details make it one of the most beautiful gardens in the Middle East, and it has recently been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On a guided tour you will uncover the fascinating history of this 16th century paradise.

In the afternoon, enjoy some free time to explore Kashan at your leisure. There are many optional activities on offer. Maybe wander through the historic houses area (Ehsan, Abbasian, Tabatabaei, Borujerdi), visit the Aqa Bozorg Mosque, check out Kashan Bazaar or stop in at the Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad (ancient bath house). Meet your leader this evening for an included dinner.

Cycling distance: None
Included Activities
  • Kashan - Fin Gardens entrance and guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Kashan - Agha Bozorg Mosque and Madraseh - IRR250000
  • Kashan - Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse - IRR150000
  • Kashan - Bazaar - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Drive out of Kashan and off the main highway to a small town where we will begin today’s ride. The 20km ride will be another climb, starting at approximately 1400m and finishing at around 2200m. Along the way we will pass through tiny villages where there may be the opportunity to interact with some of the local villagers.

Transfer the remaining distance in the support vehicle and arrive into Abyaneh. The historic town is well known for its rich red, mud brick walls giving the town an incredible warmth. Retire to your hotel this evening after an included dinner.

Cycling distance: Approx. 20km/12 miles, mostly uphill with 770m/2530ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Leaving evocative Abyaneh behind you cycle downhill from Abyaneh all the way to Natanz (approx. 28km/17 miles). Depending on time, there may be the option to ride further.

Continue the journey to Esfahan by vehicle. The plan today is to arrive by 5 pm, after which you can explore this beautiful city at your leisure.

Cycling distance: Approx. 28km/17 miles, mostly downhill, with 647m/2120ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a free day to explore the beautiful city of Esfahan today. Perhaps join your leader for a short orientation walk to the main square and then take a wander at your own pace. Be sure to visit the Shah Mosque, regarded as one of the great masterpieces of Iranian architecture, and walk around Naqsh-e Jahan (Image of the World) Square, a great spot to people-watch. Between palaces, mosques, museums and the bazaar you’re spoilt for ways to fill your day in Esfahan, so just ask your leader if you need any recommendations.

Meet the group back at the hotel in the evening before heading out for dinner. Along the way there will be the chance to check out the Khaju Bridge which, with over 23 arches and length of 130 metres, is one of the finest such structures in Iran, dating back to Persian times. Further up the river is the stunning Si-o-seh pol (Farsi for the number 33) bridge, a 300m long bridge with 33 arches that has stood since 1599. Evening is the best time to view these architectural works of art as they are beautifully illuminated.

Cycling distance: None
Included Activities
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
  • Esfahan - Orientation walk to Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Optional Activities
  • Esfahan - Martyrs Cemetery - Free
  • Esfahan - Chehel Sotun Palace - IRR150000
  • Esfahan - Ali Qapu Palace - Free
  • Esfahan - Jameh Mosque - Free
  • Esfahan - Manar Jomban (Shaking Minarets) - IRR150000
  • Esfahan - Imam Square - Free
  • Esfahan - Shah Mosque - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Transit out of Esfahan to Shahreza (approx. 1hr) and fuel up for your ride with a morning coffee. From here, jump on your bike and cycle approximately 58km/36 miles to the small town of Izad Khast. The ride is along the highway, however there is a nice big shoulder to cycle on and the traffic is light.

Izad Khast is a beautiful town and, thanks to its remote location, visitors are rare. Explore the ancient ruins of Izad Khast castle before dinner, where you’ll enjoy a fresh kebab at a traditional local house.

Cycling distance: Approx. 58km/36 miles, with 420m/1400ft of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Izad Khast - Izad Khast Castle guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Izad Khast - Caravansery ruins tour (subject to open) - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight we will stay in a local home and conditions will be basic. Please note that these are not 'homestays' in the traditional sense and often the family/owners will not stay with us during our visit. When we stay in local homes we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed. While bedding is provided, you might like to bring a thin, light inflatable camping-style mattress (e.g. Thermarest) to increase your comfort.
Bid farewell to Izad Khast and take the support vehicle for the highway portion of today’s journey to Pasargad. Stretch your legs by cycling the final 44km along quiet back roads before reaching Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage site and once the capital of the sprawling Achaemenid Empire. Take some time to walk around these fascinating ruins and check out the well-preserved tomb of Cyrus the Great. This evening we will stay in a modest local home in Pasargad.

Cycling distance: approx. 44km/27 miles, with 330m/1085ft of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Parsagad - Pasargadae UNESCO world heritage site entrance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Tonight we will stay in a local home and conditions will be basic. Please note that these are not 'homestays' in the traditional sense and often the family/owners will not stay with us during our visit. When we stay in local homes we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed. While bedding is provided, you might like to bring a thin, light inflatable camping-style mattress (e.g. Thermarest) to increase your comfort.
From Pasargad, we’ll cycle the entire way from our local home to the hotel in Persepolis, via Naqsh-e Rajab, an ancient archaeological site. It’s a reasonable cycle day today by the foot of the mountains so we’ll take the evening to enjoy a well earned rest, saving the big Iranian attractions for the following day.

Cycling distance: Approx. 80km/50 miles, with 350m/1150ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Cycle the short distance from the hotel to the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the former centre of the Persian Empire and Iran’s premier attraction. Persepolis was constructed in the reign of Darius I and took an astonishing 150 years to complete. Meet your local guide and take a tour of this fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, learning about the rich history of the city.

After a few hours here, continue your journey by cycling to Shiraz. It’s not an easy ride, but there is a nice 18-kilometre downhill section at the end to look forward to. It is also the last day of cycling on this trip, so don’t hold back! Along the way stop off at Naqsh-e Rustam, an ancient necropolis cut into a cliff face which dates back to 500 BC.

In the evening, take a guided tour of Shahcheragh – a beautiful mausoleum for one of Imam Reza's brothers. Enjoy dinner with the group then stop by Karim Khan Citadel on the way back to the hotel. The complex is closed in the evening, however the glow of the lights make for a spectacular photograph.

Cycling distance: 29km/18 miles, mostly flat with approx. 90m/290ft of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour
  • Shiraz - Shahcheragh guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Persepolis - Naqsh-e Rustam Necropolis - IRR200000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Shiraz is considered the Pearl of Persia and its very name evokes images of ancient times: tranquil gardens, lavish mansions, colourful woollen rugs, art, philosophy, poetry and of course, the famous Shiraz red wine (although it's no longer found here). Shiraz is also a renowned centre of learning and boasts many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country.

Today is a free day, but you might like to join your leader on a walk to the Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque (also known as the 'Pink Mosque' thanks to its beautifully stained glass windows and light) to get your bearings. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. You might like to visit Hafez Tomb, Shiraz Bazaar or head back to the Shahcheragh Holy Shrine to take a peak inside.

Cycling distance: None
Included Activities
  • Shiraz - Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque and Khan Madraseh
Optional Activities
  • Shiraz - Vakil Bazaar - Free
  • Shiraz - Hafez Tomb - IRR150000
  • Shiraz - Bagh-e Eram Gardens - IRR150000
  • Shiraz - Karim Khan Citadel - IRR200000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, settle in for the long 440km/273 mile drive to Yazd. Along the way, stop for lunch and visit the Cypress of Abarkuh, an ancient cedar tree believed to be approximately 4500–5000 years old (and even featured in the writings of Marco Polo). You'll arrive at our traditional hotel in Yazd in the late afternoon and have the rest of the evening to relax and explore the local area. This ancient desert city was once a major stop on the caravan route to Central Asia during the Silk Road period. Yazd is also the heart of the Zoroastrian religion.

Cycling distance: None
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Abarkuh - Cypress of Abarkuh
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a guided walking tour through Yazd's Old Town with your Leader this morning. Wander the narrow, cobblestone streets and mud-brick walls and learn about Yazd’s rich history. The afternoon is free for you to explore - a good option is to visit the Jameh Mosque of Yazd, or perhaps the Amir Chakhmaq Complex and take a walk around the buzzing bazaar. Meet up with your group later this evening and head out for an included local meal.

Cycling distance: None
Included Activities
  • Yazd - Guided walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd - IRR80000
  • Yazd - Amir Chakhmaq Complex & Square - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Today we make the 7 hour journey back to Tehran in the support vehicle. It is a long day in the van, but a great opportunity to take a rest and reflect after a busy 2 weeks. Join your leader and fellow riders tonight for an included farewell dinner and celebrate your cycling successes.

Cycling distance: None

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. Please note that, due to visa restrictions, you are only permitted to extend your stay by 1 night in Iran (all nationalities) and additional accommodation must be booked with Intrepid. Additionally, as travellers from the UK, USA and Canada must be accompanied at all times by a guide it is essential that you pre-arrange any extra sightseeing and a departure transfer. See below for a list of optional activities we recommend and contact your booking agent if you would like to reserve a place.
Optional Activities
  • Tehran - Beyond Tehran Urban Adventure - USD78
  • Tehran - Persian Hospitality Urban Adventure - USD95
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

15 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 9 dinners

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle (Minivan van and/or car)

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights), Local home (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Tehran - Tajrish orientation walk
  • Qom - Orientation walk
  • Kashan - Fin Gardens entrance and guided tour
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
  • Esfahan - Orientation walk to Naqsh-e Jahan Square
  • Izad Khast - Izad Khast Castle guided tour
  • Parsagad - Pasargadae UNESCO world heritage site entrance
  • Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour
  • Shiraz - Shahcheragh guided tour
  • Shiraz - Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque and Khan Madraseh
  • Abarkuh - Cypress of Abarkuh
  • Yazd - Guided walking tour

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip involves long periods of time in a vehicle transiting between destinations.
2. Approved bike helmets are hard to source in Iran so it is essential to bring your own from home.
3. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker.
4. Please provide your height at the time of booking so that the correct sized bike can be arranged
5. A single supplement is available on this trip with the exception of Day 8 (Izad Khast) & Day 9 (Parsagad) when we stay in local homes.

IMPORTANT - Please note that UK, USA and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to process a visa for these nationalities. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities. Please see the Passport & Visa section for detailed information or contact your consulate. 

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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